There is a funny thing that happens on the first day of February. The Valentine’s Day clock starts ticking… from the first day, you have literally 2 weeks (14 days) to come up with a wonderful way to show your nearest and dearest how much you love them. Now I’m not just talking about buying presents, because sometimes it’s the little things that matter. And if you’re like me, it’s really the thought that counts more than anything.
The Chicken-Free Pot Pie. This is one of the first dinners I made for Dan when we first moved into together, and it’s remained one of his favorites. [Ed. note: my absolute favorite] Whenever I make this dinner, it takes us back to when we were still pretty new to this whole “being more than friends” thing, and had that new love rush*. Ever combine a little romantic nostalgia with a solid “love of your life” situation? It’s pretty great. I recommend it. This recipe is our Chicken Pot Pie, with a take on Betty’s Pie Crust Recipe that is the result of some experimenting, but I think this final recipe turned out kinda lovely.
But if you’re not sold on baking your sweetheart a pot pie for Valentine’s Day, we’re going to try to post some suggestions between now and then to help you bring the shock and awe this year. This brings us to…
Why send a dozen roses when you can send a dozen vegan cinnamon rolls? Over at Cinnaholic Vegan Bakery they’re having a pretty sweet deal on shipping right now (no pun intended). If you buy a box of rolls for your loved one and choose an optional card for $5, they will match that $5 and a total of $10 goes to PETA. Click here for more info!
These are the pies that convinced Dan to keep me… [Ed. note: there was never any doubt of that]
The Vegan Chicken Pot Pies
(makes 4 personal pies or 1 regular sized pie)
1 Package of your Favorite Vegan Chicken cut into strips (Gardein Chicken Breasts, Match Vegan Meats formed into strips, Morningstar Chik’n Strips, LiteLife Chicken Smart Strips… there are so many to choose from. We used Gardein this time, but any of them would be great.)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Dash of Liquid Smoke
3 Celery Stalks (chopped)
1 Cup Frozen Green Beans
1 Cup Frozen Peas & Carrots
2-3 Small Red Potatoes (cooked and cut into cubes; we baked ours for 45 minutes at 375)
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Cups Better Than Bouillon – Vegan Chicken Broth (made per instructions on the package)
2 Tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids
3 1/2 teaspoons Poultry Seasoning or 2 Teaspoons Seasoning Salt (there are several brands of these of these products that are vegan; I recommend reading a few labels till you find one you like)
2 teaspoons Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley (diced)
1/4 teaspoon Celery Seed
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour (you’re going to want more to flour surfaces)
1 teaspoon crushed Sea Salt
2/3 Cups & 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Shortening (we made one version with the Crisco Vegetable Shortening and it was much heavier and crumblier than when we use the Spectrum Organic Shortening ; we recommend you use the Spectrum even though we are thrilled that Crisco has a vegan shortening)
4 – 6 Tablespoons Cold Water
In your beloved cast iron skillet, heat Olive Oil and Liquid Smoke over a medium heat. Once the Oil is hot, cook Vegan Chicken in the skillet till it is a golden brown and has crispy edges. Then remove from heat and set aside the Vegan Chicken aside on a plate.
In the same skillet, make your Gravy. Toast the Flour, Nutritional Yeast and 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil until it starts to brown. Whisk in the Broth until there are no lumps. Stir in Braggs, Poultry Seasoning, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Garlic Powder, Celery Seed, Parsley and Black Pepper. Heat till it thickens and starts to boil.
Then stir Celery, Green Beans, Potatoes, Vegan Chicken, Peas and Carrots and turn the heat down to a simmer.
In a medium bowl, mix Flour and Salt. Cut the Shortening in and then use a pastry blender to mix. You want your Dough to become little clumps that look like small peas. Sprinkle in the Cold Water 1 Tablespoon at a time, and then use a large fork to mix. You just want the dough to be moist but not wet.
With your hands, roll the Dough into a ball inside the ball. On a floured surface, roll your Dough ball out with a floured roller. Try to keep the crust even. You don’t want some areas to be thinner than others. Gently roll the flattened Dough up into plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes. You want the Dough to be firm but still pliable so if it is crumbly when you remove it from the fridge. Press the cracks to fix any cracks and then let it warm a little till it is more pliable.
Then take your pie or casserole dishes and place them upside down on the crust to give you a guide to cut your crust. Be sure when you are cutting around the dishes – you leave an extra inch or 1/2 inch around the edges to seal the pies. Once each Crust top is cut, cut a small X or hole in the center. I used a mini heart-shaped cookie cutter.
Heat oven to 425.
Then fill your casserole dishes 3/4 of the way with the Vegan Chicken Gravy Mix and gently place the Crust on top. Gently press the Dough around the edges to seal the top. You can put a bit more Vegan Chicken Gravy Mix in the dishes if you’re OK with some potential overflow.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. You’ll want to pull them out of the oven once the edges are a golden brown. Let your pies cool for around 10 minutes and then serve with a side of Journey.
*Some might even call it a Pot Pie Time Machine